Monday, July 15

How a Yale Student’s Rape Accusation Exposed Her to a Defamation Lawsuit

Naomi Shatz, a lawyer who has represented accusers and accused in other hearings, has noticed an uptick in such suits, but they are uncommon, she said. The accused usually wants to move on, especially if the case is not public. (Mr. Khan’s case had received significant news media coverage, including in The Times, before he filed his lawsuit.)

“It’s a huge emotional and financial burden to be dragged into a defamation lawsuit,” she said, citing the successful lawsuit by the actor Johnny Depp against his former wife, Amber Heard. “Nobody wants to be in Amber Heard’s position, especially as a young college student without financial resources or social capital.”

For his part, Mr. Khan, who is originally from Afghanistan, said that he was pleased with the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision. But he said that he doesn’t believe a cross-examination would have changed the outcome of his hearing. There was too much intense public pressure, he said, at the height of the #MeToo movement.

Mr. Khan, a neuroscience student while at Yale, never earned a bachelor’s degree. He is suing the university as well, for breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress, among other claims. He is seeking $110 million in damages and the opportunity to finish his degree. “Yale took away my 20s,” he said.

But his larger mission is to abolish campus Title IX hearings, he said, and he is traveling the country, conferring and strategizing with other students accused of sexual assaults. If he wins the defamation suit against his former classmate, he said that he will disseminate her name and facts about the case online. His name will always be connected to this case, and hers should too, he said.